Train Managers to Handle Difficult Conversations

Get managers to stop avoiding, freezing, or giving in when the going gets tough.

Your Challenge

  • Difficult conversations can be hard to approach as they cover workplace conflicts and topics such as delivering bad news, apologizing, asking for something, and discussing sensitive subjects.
  • Managers, like any other employee, sometimes avoid these difficult conversations because they do not have the confidence, experience, or methodology to approach them effectively and with confidence.
  • Avoiding difficult conversations can negatively impact employee productivity and engagement, costing the organization thousands of dollars.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Getting comfortable facing difficult conversations and handling them effectively starts with understanding the keys to successful conflict resolution and continues with support from peers, HR, and the organization.
  • The McLean & Company Difficult Conversations E.A.S.E. framework can help you through a challenging conversation by guiding you through the appropriate pre-work, engaging the employee in conversation, absorbing the employee’s point of view, sharing your own perspective, and ending the conversation with actionable next steps and follow-up.

Impact and Result

  • Decrease avoidance of difficult conversations and stop freezing and giving in when it comes to facing them.
  • Increase your success rate with handling a difficult conversation.
  • Save the organization on the costs from avoidance which can range from $100 to $50,000 dollars per conversation depending on the topic.


  • Judy Ringer, Conflict & Communications Specialist, Author, and Coach, Power and Presence Training
  • Craig Dowden (Ph.D.), Managing Director, SPBOrganizational Psychology
  • Caroline Williams, Director of Education and Learning, Spark Training and Coaching Associates Inc.
  • James A. Whyte, Owner, Sebastian Group Ltd.
  • Manager, Learning & Organizational Development, Engineering Consulting
  • Jodie Barley, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Beth Collins-Kelly, Human Resources Generalist, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Ashley McFarlane, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Jenny Tennebaum, The HIROC Group
  • Jennifer Heikamp, The Regional Municipality of York
  • Diane A. Ross, Difficult Conversations Expert, Author, and Speaker, Elephant Conversations Ltd.

Get the Complete Storyboard

See how all the steps you need to take come together, with tools and advice to help with each task on your list.

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Get to Action

  1. Learn a framework to make difficult conversations easier

    Assess manager comfort with conflict and teach new tactics to help them better handle challenging encounters with direct reports.

Guided Implementation Icon Talk to an Analyst

Our analyst calls are focused on helping our members use the research we produce, and our experts will guide you to successful project completion.

  • Book an Analyst Call on this topic. You can start as early as tomorrow morning. Our analysts will explain the process in your first call.
  • Get advice from a subject matter expert. Each call will focus on explaining the material and helping you to plan your project, interpret and analyze the results of each project step, and setting the direction for your next project step.

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Search Code: 75530
Published: June 25, 2014
Last Revised: June 25, 2014

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